Google Pulls Parler as Apple Threatens the Same After Capitol Riot -- 3rd Update
By Jeff Horwitz and Tim Higgins
Alphabet Inc.'s Google late Friday suspended Parler, a
free-speech focused social-media network favored by conservatives,
for failing to moderate incitements to violence and illegal
activity, and Apple Inc. threatened to do the same.
Google said it acted because of "continued posting in the Parler
app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the U.S.," which
violated its requirements for sufficient moderation of egregious
content for apps it distributes. "In light of this ongoing and
urgent public safety threat, we are suspending the app's listings
from the Play Store until it addresses these issues," a Google
Apple told Parler it received complaints regarding objectionable
content on the service and accusations the app was used to plan,
coordinate and facilitate illegal activities, according to a notice
provided to The Wall Street Journal by John Matze, Parler's chief
The tech giant said in order for Parler to remain available in
the App Store, it had to provide detailed information about its
content-moderation plans and "what you will do to improve
moderation and content filtering your service for this kind of
objectionable content going forward."
Apple set a deadline of 24 hours for Parler's compliance.
Launched in 2018, Parler has billed itself as a free-speech
friendly and content-recommendation free alternative to larger
social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. It has exploded in
popularity in the run-up to and after the 2020 U.S. presidential
While Parler bans spam, threats of violence and other illegal
activity, its rules don't prohibit hate speech and false
Mr. Matze said Parler believes its existing rules against
incitements to violence meet Apple's standards and that Parler is
confident that "we can retain our values and make Apple happy
Nonetheless, Mr. Matze said, he was nervous "because the text in
their messaging was fairly confrontational."
The decisions on Parler come as Twitter Inc. on Friday
permanently suspended President Trump's personal account, saying
recent tweets risked a further incitement of violence after the
deadly Capitol riot. The actions were roundly panned by
conservatives online who said the ban illustrated bias against
users such as Mr. Trump.
In recent years, Apple and Google have also shown a willingness
in the U.S. to pull content from far-right creators deemed
controversial, pulling Infowars podcasts in 2018 and Gab AI Inc., a
social media app, in 2017. In pulling five Infowars podcasts, Apple
said at the time, they didn't comply with guidelines designed to
create a safe environment for users. Google's YouTube terminated
channels related to InfoWars in 2018.
The move comes as Apple and other big tech companies are under
scrutiny by regulators and lawmakers around the world for the power
they hold over digital ecosystems.
In recent weeks, Apple has been accused of keeping politically
sensitive apps from being distributed on its store in China to
appease authorities there. Apple has defended itself by saying it
follows the rules and laws where it operates.
In the wake of the riot at the Capitol Wednesday, Apple and
Google have faced pressure to remove Parler from their respective
Sleeping Giants, a liberal activist group, called on both
platforms to take action against Parler, which saw a massive growth
in new accounts in the days following the election as mainstream
social media networks cracked down on unfounded claims that the
election was stolen from Mr. Trump. Citing posts in which Parler
users called for Vice President Pence to be "put in front of a
firing squad" and threatened additional violence ahead of the
inauguration, the group began a lobbying campaign under the hashtag
Kate Klonick, an assistant law professor at St. John's
University who studies content moderation, said that Apple's move
reflected its longstanding power over what apps people can readily
put on their phones.
"Apple decides what platforms and applications can and cannot
exist, and it does so without accountability or transparency," she
said. "If this is a moment for people to think about how much
control Apple has over the information ecosystem, that's a good
Write to Jeff Horwitz at Jeff.Horwitz@wsj.com and Tim Higgins at
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 08, 2021 21:15 ET (02:15 GMT)
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